Recent Blog Posts

21st September 2011

Startup Meetup.

I'm going to my first startup meetup on Monday. I'm extremely excited to see how these people compare to myself and if I can get anything from these new connections.

I don't really know what to expect. As of yet I haven't had any massive success with the projects I've undertaken. I'm hoping Athesyn may change that, but it's still too early to begin to predict how successful it will be. In some ways I hope a lot of them are wealthy entrepreneurs with many projects and ideas. They are the kind of people that can really give good advise on how to lauch a startup and how to overcome the some of hurdles startups have.

I'll be pitching Athesyn to them and explaining in a little detail what kind of features can be expected at launch. It will be a great chance to get some quality feedback from other like-minded individuals.

Hopefully I'll write a little bit next week about how the meetup went and what the people were like. I think it's a great idea to try and find meetup groups like this when working on a startup project because not only do you have a chance to make some useful connections, you also have a good platform for reviewing and brain storming ideas.


12th September 2011

Developing Athesyn

I'm so excited right now, I need to write it all out. Let me explain...

My primary current project (Athesyn) is just starting to pull together. Sure, most the features that will really define the site haven't even been started yet, but right now, for the first time, I can see how this website will look.

For thoses of you who don't know, which I assume is pretty much everyone reading this. Athesyn is a social news website. Yeah, I know... It doesn't sound like much right? Well, it is. Athesyn isn't like the other social news sites out there at the moment. I don't even like calling it one because it's so much more advanced. It's like saying the IPhone is just a phone. I wish I could explain to you some of differences between Athesyn and other social news websites, but it's still too early into the development for me to comment on exact features. Just know, it's like I said, Athesyn's a social news site like the IPhone is a phone.

Of course I am massively biased and it's hard for me to explain how beautiful this website is, but trust me, it's so beautiful. It has an incredibly satisfying user experience, and I have to say, I think if the user interface can stay as perfect as it is right now when the website is finished, it is quite easily the best user interface I've ever seen.

Please sign up for our newsletter and closed beta invite list here: http://www.athesyn.com/  
Thank you. We can't wait to tell you more.


2nd September 2011

Why Windows 8 tablets will be big

Ever since Apple launched it's IPad many mobile and PC manufacturers have been trying to get into the tablet market. Most manufacturers have gone with an Android based solution and have generally took advantage of the new Honeycomb version which has been optimised for tablets. Apple, however is basically using the same OS on it's tablets that it has on it's IPod touch.

Now Microsoft will soon be release their new OS Windows 8. The new PC OS seems to be very tablet oriented with a optimised interface for tablets and touch screen devices. What I find most interesting is that Microsoft have decided instead of starting with a mobile OS and optimising it for tablet use, similar to what Android or Apple has done, they are starting with a PC OS and adding a tablet friendly shell.

I personally and others have often questioned the point of tablets. They're to big to carry around in your pocket, and they're too impractical to use for anything other than basic web browsing. In fact the main purpose I've found people have for their tablets is to browse the web and play games when they're on a break at work or at university.

With Windows 8 there seems to be more reason why you would want one. For example you can plug your USB camera into it, copy the photos over, and upload them to Facebook. This kind of thing is impossible on an Android or Apple tablet. Having the device support of Windows on a tablet brings a whole new set of functionality to the market.

I think this over everything else, including that beautiful UI inspired from Windows 7, will make Windows 8 a very strong competitor in the tablet market. The ability to plug in external devices makes it nearly as useful to carry around with you as a laptop.

Personally I can't wait to see what some of the Windows 8 tablet solutions will look like. If manufacturers can make attractive devices with USB inputs I can see a whole new appeal tablets arising.


25th August 2011

UI is your books cover

We've all  heard the common expression "don't judge a book by it's cover", but people still do.

As humans it can help to recognise how visually influenced we are by the things around us. Every day we do exactly what we are told not to and judge a book by it's cover. Ask yourself when you're in public have you ever decided someone is, gay or poor just because of how they're dressed?

Why do we make these conclusions? Well in some ways they can help. By asserting that a hooded man approaching you on the path is more likely to cause trouble you can take action sooner. Maybe you'll cross the road, or enter the pub you're just walking past.

The problem is these conclusions we make based on first impressions are often wrong. This is why your websites user interface is incredibly important.

Picture this... You're new in town and you're walking down the local highstreet. You see a computer shop, in the window. There is an old CRT monitor on display for £5. The window is a little dirty and it doesn't look like it's very well lit inside. Next to that shop is another computer shop. This time it has new laptops, monitors and other gear in the window. It looks colourful, bright and they even have an offer on in the window. Naturally if you were in the market for a new laptop you would likely choose the second shop to get it from. Guess what though? That first shop has the same laptops as the second shop, but they're a quarter of the price.

What I'm trying to explain is that new customers are less likely to care what your website offers and more likely to care about how it looks and how it feels.

So ask yourself, is your website the first shop or the second?


18th August 2011

I hate PHP, but I'm still using it

Before I start writing I want to clarify something... PHP is shit.

My first real experience with programming was with JAVA in college. I didn't know anything about programming back then. I didn't know what a class or a function was, I didn't even know what a data type was. I was learning to program from fresh.

My teacher first started us off by explaining conditional statements and giving us some JAVA code to play with so we could experiment with the logic. I found this quite easy. I understood the logic and felt confident that I could change bits of the code to get the output I wanted. I remember changing a friends code to display the number of nuts he has.

We moved on. We started learning about classes and objects and things started getting more confusing. I could change the logic of the sample code and I generally got the output I wanted but I didn't really understand all of it. 'What are these static things'? I want to point out that my teacher was great, OO programming is just a very tricky concept to teach.

This is where I fell in love with PHP.

Me and my friend decided to create a hosting website. I've known HTML since high school so that wasn't a problem, it was just the sites logic. We started playing with PHP a bit and I couldn't believe how easy it was to use. I didn't have to worry about creating a main method (public static main thing) or classes. It didn't even moan when I wanted to compare a String with an int.

Now I'm in university and I finally understand the costs of these shortcuts in PHP, however I still use it. I think in it's own way, it's perfect. Let me explain by using Facebook as an example. For Facebook to be successful it needed to be better than it's competition. By using PHP features could be roled out a lot quicker because all the thought could go into the core logic over the little things stricter languages want you to think about. This meant the developers could get features out quicker making them more competitive. Facebook might not be where they are now without PHP.

I think a developer should use the language he or she feels they can get the best results from. If that's PHP, like me, then use it! It's better to get 100 billion hits a day then start optimising than having everything perfect and only getting 100 hits a day.


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